The Pittsburgh Steelers are the defending Superbowl Champions. The road is never easy to repeat, and there are few teams in the history of the game that have ever accomplished that feat. So of course, the question is: Can the Steelers repeat?
Yes, they can.
The Steelers are returning 20 of 22 starters. The offense remained intact, but the defense lost CB Bryant McFadden and ILB Larry Foote. However, third year players CB William Gay and ILB Lawrence Timmons should be able to take over for them easy. With so many returning, there should be little drop off from the NFL's best defense, with only improvement on offense.
The Steelers also have no huge holes on offense and defense. While fans have been clamouring for a rebuilding of the offensive line, the starting unit from last year is returning. The only questions they had were depth behind an aging DL, an inexperienced group of WRs, questionable OL, and aging DBs. Besides depth, improving in the return and short yardage game is a must.
And they only solidified this team by once again having a great draft. To help get younger on the DL, they drafted Ziggy Hood in the 1st Round and Ra'Shon Harris in the 6th. The return game was definitely addressed with the drafting of WR Mike Wallace in the 3rd Round and CB Joe Burnett in the 5th Round. RB Frank Summers, a 5th Round pick will be the big back that can get the tough yards. The OL was addressed by drafting G Kraig Urbik in the 3rd Round and C A.Q. Shipley, the Rimmington Award winner in the 7th. Also, CB Keenan Lewis was drafted in the 3rd Round to help provide some youth in the backfield. In addition to this year's selections, last year's picks including RB Rashard Mendenhall, WR Limas Sweed, and S Ryan Mundy will give the Steelers even more versatility out on the field.
Despite the key additions, the Steelers 2010 free agent class is quite large. Starters including NT Casey Hampton, LT Max Starks(franchise tag), RB Willie Parker, TE Heath Miller, DE Brett Keisel, FS Ryan Clark, PK Jeff Reed, CB Deshea Townsend, C Justin Hartwig, and RT Willie Colon. Replacing them, if not retaining them, will not be easy. However, the one nice thing about contract years is the fact that the players will work their butts off so they can get that big check in the offseason.
Not to mention the easy schedule they have this year. The Steelers play division rivals Cleveland, Baltimore and Cincinnati twice a piece, then play against the weak AFC West divison that includes Oakland, Kansas City, Denver, and the overrated Chargers. Next comes the underachieving NFC North that includes Detroit, Green Bay, Minnesota, and Chicago. Lastly, the play Tennessee to begin the season and Miami to end the season. From that list, there are only 5 playoff teams from last year.
The Steelers are the most complete team in the NFL. They have a franchise QB in Ben Roethlisberger(1). They have three very good RBs in Willie Parker(2), Rashard Mendenhall, and Mewelde Moore. They have two Superbowl MVP WRs with Hines Ward(3) and Santonio Holmes. They have an underrated TE in Heath Miller, who can create mismatches in the passing game. Then defense is loaded with great players such as NT Casey Hampton(5), DE Aaron Smith(1), reigning Defensive Player of the Year James Harrison(2), ILB James Farrior(2), LaMarr Woodley, Ike Taylor, and SS Troy Polamalu(4).Then add in the promising young players like Sweed, Mundy, Lewis, Burnett, Wallace, Hood, Harris, Shipley, Urbik, and Summers, this team is poised for a repeat.
Last but not least, creidt must be given to the youngest head coach to win a Superbowl, Mike Tomlin. Mike Tomlin is a player's man. He truly cares about his players as individuals, not just athletes. Also, he is never satisfied with what he has. He has been quoted saying that he is driven, never hungry, because he hunger can be satisfied.